/Shavuot – Feast of Weeks or the giving of the Torah (6th day of Sivan)

Shavuot – Feast of Weeks or the giving of the Torah (6th day of Sivan)

Shavuot is one of the so-called pilgrimage festivals, each of which recalls the Israelites’ trek across the desert, known as the Exodus, after their release from captivity in Egypt some 3,400 years ago. Later, during the Temple Period, established some 3,000 years ago, Jews were required to try and go to the Temple in Jerusalem during each of the three pilgrimage festivals. The other two pilgrimage festivals are Passover, which falls in spring, and Sukkot, Feast of the Booths.
Jews have three reasons to celebrate at Shavuot. The first relates to their belief that it is when God gave Moses the Tablets of Law and the Torah. The Shavuot festival marks that with a celebration of study, which often includes a variety of talks and presentations. The prevalent custom is to stay up all night and study the Torah. This is called Tikun Leil Shavuot. Secondly, it celebrates the end of the Counting of the Omer (that began at second day of Passover) when the wheat is ripe for harvest. The third reason to celebrate is also connected to harvest time, because the first fruits of spring are ready to be picked. The Shavuot festival is therefore marked by eating different cereals and fruits.
Shavuot is also a reminder that it is important to accept our fellow human beings. The reading for the service at Shavuot is the ‘Book of Ruth’ in which Ruth, a convert to Judaism, grows to become a respected member of the community. In Judaism, the ancestry of a person is not important – individuals are valued according to their actions.